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Former C&EN editor in chief Rudy Baum died in March. We celebrate his legacy

by Bibiana Campos-Seijo
April 16, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 13


It was a sad day for C&EN’s staff when we received the news of the passing of our former editor in chief Rudy Baum. The team is still working remotely, but I imagine that every one of us gasped in shock and took a slow, deep breath.

I also imagine that those of us who had the honor of working with Rudy thought about our last interactions: “When did I last speak to him? Is it really more than x years since I last saw him?” And as the news sank in, we delved into our memory banks to celebrate the time Rudy was in our lives.

Stories started pouring in—about Rudy’s travels for business or to dive with whale sharks, and personal tales that exemplify how he cared for and stood up for the people in his charge.

One staff member spoke of the banter they always had regarding Rudy’s preferred footwear: socks and sandals. Another team member spoke of how Rudy supported them as they contemplated moving across the country to be with a loved one.

We have gathered some of these memories and tributes by staff and members of the chemical sciences community in the obituary that appears on page 37. But they only begin to illustrate the impact and influence that Rudy had on many of us. To celebrate his legacy, I’d like to share a few additional accolades:

Amanda Yarnell, former director of editorial, product, and audience engagement at C&EN, applauded Rudy’s mentorship of young journalists:

“Rudy was a tireless champion of C&EN, a generous mentor of young science writers, and a persuasive and powerful op-ed writer. His influential C&EN editorials on climate change, whether calling out inaction or pointing to possible solutions, were ahead of their time. He will be missed—by all those he helped at C&EN and ACS but also by the entire chemistry community.”

Former ACS news editor Linda Wang commented on Rudy’s trailblazing editorials on climate change: “Rudy was way ahead of the curve, and his passion for fighting climate change reflected his passion for saving the Earth for future generations.”

Peter Stang, a former member of C&EN’s editorial board and former editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, lamented losing a friend: “I have known Rudy Baum for 30 years. He was a fantastic editor of C&EN, a wonderful human being, and a great friend.”

Former C&EN executive editor Lauren Wolf provided some insight into Rudy’s personality:

“Although it might not have been obvious from his editorials, Rudy was an introvert, who I think was probably happiest at home, with his family and friends. He became a leader in the newsroom, not because he wanted to be one, but because he had to be one—he was born to it. He was the person you wanted to have in your corner. He would fight for C&EN and his staff to the death. You always knew he cared.”

Harry B. Gray, a former member of C&EN’s advisory board, acknowledged Rudy’s sway: “He made a huge impact on members of the bioinorganic community. We loved to hang out with him.”

Rudy was a powerhouse, full of charisma, a strong presence in the C&EN newsroom. As we approach our 100th anniversary, it would be impossible to ignore his legacy. But of his many achievements, perhaps the most important and longest lasting is that he helped a generation of science journalists at C&EN. For that, we’ll be forever grateful.

One last time, on Rudy’s behalf: thanks for reading.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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